You’ve decided to use a seller’s agent to help you list your house for sale. You’ll probably be glad you did. But finding the right real estate agent to fit your particular needs, whose personality matches your own, with mastery in the niche you need, who’s an expert in your area, now that’s a tall order. Here’s an ultimate guide to how you can choose the right real estate agent to help you sell your home.
What is a Seller’s Agent?
A seller’s agent is the real estate agent who represents the homeowner in the process of selling his, hers, or their house.
When you hire a seller’s agent, you must realize that you are not your real estate agent’s employer. Instead, you agreed to enter into a working relationship with a professional who is educated and experienced in the real estate industry with specialties in advising homeowners, marketing, and facilitating the sale of residential properties.
It’s Bigger than You Are.
There’s a network. There’s an entire entwined web of real estate professionals who buy, sell, and trade properties that aren’t theirs every day. Furthermore, they earn good money doing it. Because there’s a fabric woven from sharing information in what’s now called the multiple listing service, or MLS, there’s a system in place in which real estate agents exchange information and compensate each other for assists in sales.
The Order of Things
The Seller’s Agent: In the natural order of all things real estate, the seller’s agent, also known as the listing agent, trumps the buyer’s agent. By that, it means that when entering the transaction, the seller’s agent secured an agreement with the homeowner for a commission, a pre-determined commission, from the sale of a house in return for the agent’s involvement in its sale. That contract gives the seller’s agent the lead role in facilitating the sale of the house. In fact, the seller’s agent is so positioned in the hierarchy that he or she offers to compensate any buyer’s agent who brings the right buyer to the table. The seller’s agent helps with pricing, advice about staging, adding the property to the MLS, marketing to the right audience, receiving offers from interested parties, reviewing offers with the seller, negotiating terms, and then oversees the remainder of the transaction.
The Buyer’s Agent: You could say that a buyer’s agent is kind of a scout for the seller’s agent, but who works on behalf of the buyer. The buyer does not pay the buyer’s agent, although they do enter into a legal and binding contract to work together as a team with the goal of home ownership. This real estate professional specializes in understanding the house hunter’s needs. The buyer’s agent assists the buyer in achieving a realistic idea about wish lists and budgets and then guides the house-hunting process. The buyer’s agent shows homes matching their clients’ criteria, submitting an offer, negotiating terms, signing contracts, and then continues to oversee the remainder of the process to ensure that the transaction is on schedule. The seller’s agent then compensates the buyer’s agent with a portion of his or her commission from the sale of the house.
Where to Find Real Estate Agents
Ask around. Who do you know that knows someone in the real estate business? Who do you know that just bought or sold a house? Talk to your friends, family members, co-workers, etc. to see if someone you know has anyone they can recommend.
Of course, you can also do a Google search for real estate agents in your area, or you can ask for recommendations on Facebook. You can even find an agent through an ad on television, a billboard you saw when you were driving, or from a real estate sign in the yard of a house you stopped to admire.
Once you’ve garnered a decent list of potential real estate agents to choose from, it’s time to review and refine that list.
Narrowing Down the Search
In your first pass, do an Internet search for ratings and reviews from others about each agent on your list. Keep any agents whose reviews weren’t horrible, scratch out the ones who were awful, and put a star next to those that stood out positively.
Next, check credentials, criteria, licensing, etc. – make sure the professional you’re working with really is a professional. Make sure the agent you hire has knowledge and experience in selling the type of home you’re listing.
Compare areas of interest between agents. Some agents specialize in specific parts of town, so you can reduce the list again by only keeping qualified licensed agents with a specialty in niche and neighborhood.
Visit the websites of any agents remaining on your list. What vibe do you get from the site? Is it inviting, easy to navigate, informative? Or is it outdated, hard to follow, and give a sour impression?
Finally, with the agents remaining, schedule interview appointments to take your journey for the right match to the next level.
Interview Seller’s Agents
*Ask potential agents if real estate is their full-time job, or a part time job to supplement income? Many sellers prefer to work with agents who are dedicated to their craft and career who are available when you need them.
*Ask agents what “guestimate” they would they put as a price for the home. Most agents will give you a price range, and the agents should come up with answers that are similar to one another. Beware of the agent who swears he can get top dollar in no time for your house. Agents who over-embellish what they’re able to perform may be baiting the hook, adding a bit of pressure to try to seal the deal. You may also question agents about how they would advise you to prepare the house for sale to garner a higher sales price.
*Inquire about each real estate agent’s commission rate. Rates vary from one agent to the next. Don’t just pounce on the opportunity to work with the agent who charges the least amount of commission. Good real estate agents know what they’re worth and charge fair rates for their services. An agent who tries to secure a working relationship with you based on cheap service could be a red flag.
*Each agent has unique contracts, brokers, rates, terms, etc. Make sure you understand the differences between what’s being offered between agents.
*To determine the success rate of the agent, ask the agent to provide you with the list price, length of stay on the market, number of price reductions, and final sales price on his or her last three transactions. You can use this information to determine how accurate the agent was with pricing, how aggressive they were with marketing, and their overall methods for closing the sale.
*Communication is key in any relationship, and your working relationship with your real estate agent is no different. There are many ways to get in touch these days with text messaging, voice calls and voicemail, email, fax, personal meetings. Find out the agent’s preferred method of communication to make sure it aligns with yours. Come to an understanding of communication habits and expectations. How often should you expect to hear from your agent? If you leave your agent a voicemail, how long does it usually take to respond? By identifying your communication styles, methods, and preferences early on, you can eliminate frustration later down the road.
*Expectations are another unpleasant obstacle to watch out for. If you have one set of expectations about your home selling experience and your agent has another, you’re going to have problems. For example, if you expect your agent to call you daily with updates on what’s going on with the sale of your house, but your agent only expected to have to reach out to you when something new occurred, you’re both going to feel a bit bent. Talk openly about what you expect your agent to provide.
*Marketing Plans are imperative in selling real estate. Agents are trained, experienced, and have access to a variety of resources for marketing your property. From classified listings and print flyers to open house showings and private tours, your agent has a plan. Ask potential agents about their marketing plan to determine which of those plans sounds like it’s most likely to satisfy the end goal.
*Personality is also an important factor in selecting the right real estate agent to sell your house. You’re going to be working closely with that agent for the next few weeks or months, so you should feel comfortable around and confident in the agent with whom you’re working.
So you found an agent who knows what they’re doing, charges a fair price for it, specializes in a niche and/or neighborhood, has a good track record, and you’re now committed to your working relationship. What comes next?
When you’ve found the right agent and come to a working agreement, then your first order of business will be to agree on a listing price for the property. Pricing homes can be tricky, which is why you need the expert guidance of a real estate professional. If you price the house too low, you lose money. When you price a home too high, it can stay on the market so long that it begins to develop a reputation for having something wrong with it to make it unsellable, even with price cuts. So you’ve got to get the price right.
Your agent will provide you with a comprehensive market analysis, a report detailing data about real estate trends in your area. In this report, you’ll see homes that were recently sold so you can compare list price to sales price and days on the market as well as being able to gauge what buyers are willing to spend for a house similar to yours.
Your agent will likely offer you some tips and tricks for updating areas of your home or yard to make it more enticing and increase its perceived value. Staging involves removing clutter, packing away personal interests and belongings, decorating, and accenting the environment with clever touches such as crisp white towels in the bathroom, fresh flowers in the doorway, or baked goods adding their sweet aroma to the entryway.
Open Houses and Showings
Your agent should always let you know in advance when your home will be shown. Make sure the house is tidy and in show-condition. If you can help it, don’t be home – and don’t leave pets at home, either. Not all buyers are animal-friendly, and your furry or feathered family members may get a little freaked out by having strangers traipse through their territory. Your agent guides potential buyers through the property, highlighting selling points and answering questions.
Contracts and Negotiations
Your agent will help you understand terms, contingencies, negotiations, and contracts. When you get more than one offer, the agent helps you weigh the options to determine which offer best matches your needs.
Your real estate agent is your ally when selling your house. From helping your price and prepare the house for sale, to marketing the property and arranging showings, your seller’s agent leads the charge toward selling your house. Many homeowners cut out the seller’s agent in attempts to save the commission, but don’t realize the risks they put themselves in by selling a piece of real estate without representation. But not just any agent will do. Ask around for referrals or do Internet searches. Read ratings and reviews. Check licenses and certifications. Interview agents until you find the one you like, and then trust that agent to do their job and sell your house for the highest profit and least amount of time. And, of course, when you find yourself completely satisfied with the services your seller’s agent provided, take a few moments to share your review and post a rating on their social networks, on review websites, and keep a few of their business cards handy so you’re always ready to share when someone asks, “Hey, who do you know in real estate?”
This information is provided courtesy of The Eastside Real Estate Team. Keep us in mind for all your real estate needs. Call us today at 425-200-4093.